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Suzanne

I grew up near Detroit - and my family still lives there (although I'm 2 hours north now). The thing is, this is not anything new. I am 37 years old and have no memory of the Detroit glory days. Downtown has always been empty and sad in my lifetime. When I graduated from high school in 1989, there were no factory jobs for high school grads to go to. When I graduated with my B.A. from MSU in 1993 - there were no white collar jobs in the automotive industry for us to go to. The automotive industry has been in the toilet for decades.

Therefore, for the 50+ year old factory worker, although I feel bad for him, the writing has been on the wall for a long time. Skilled labor in Michigan are not having nearly the problems as the unskilled workers. I have a good friend who is a pipefitter who makes more money than my college-educated husband. Wind companies are in desparate need for technicians who can put up wind mills.

The fact of the matter is that we live in an global economy. And in a global economy, companies will go to where the labor is cheapest - and that's not in Detroit.

I understand that not every one is going to go to school to become a rocket scientist. But frankly, if you don't have a skill you won't have a job - period. I'm a Gen Xer who has friends with education ranging from a high school diploma with training (i.e. in the trades, or hair styling, or massage) to those those who are attorneys and doctors. The common denominator is that none of us ever thought we'd get work without a skill.

I'm curious if there is a generation gap going on here in the automotive industry. As "sassy" as we Gen Xers are - and as "out of the box" as the Gen Ys are, I find it hard for either of these cohorts to get P.O.ed that we can't get an unskilled job paying $75K.

One of the most frustrating things about living in Michigan is that so many people don't want to let go of the manufacturing mindset. We have the best engineers in the world in Michigan, but we don't focus on them - we focus on our aging unskilled workforce.

So after this extremely long post (sorry about that - a little passionate about this), I agree with everything Bill says on this topic. I just wish the circuses would just merge or implode or whatever so we can get on with it already. Wind energy, research, engineering, education, medicine - that's what Michigan needs to be focusing on.

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